Playthrough: Dear Friends

The Original Box Art for Final Fantasy V

In late 1992, whispers reached the ears of North American JRPG fans, telling of the release in Japan of the latest installment of the popular Final Fantasy series of video games. Yet, in a surprise disappointment driven by Nintendo’s rampant greed and fear of competition, Final Fantasy fans were to be denied the chance to play SquareSoft’s follow up to the highly successful release of Final Fantasy IV. For nearly a decade, English-speaking American People would have to wait, biding their time.

Then, in September of 1999, as part of the Final Fantasy Anthology collection, the draft version of Final Fantasy V was at last released in North America, where it was met with a mixture of acclaim and bemusement. The script, quite excellent by the standards of 1992, seemed simplistic after the release of more complex PlayStation titles. Moreover, a lack of polish in areas beyond the core script–item, monster, and ability names, for example–was a source of exasperation. Confronted by “Karl Boss” and “Y Burns”, many gamers found the draft effort unprofessionally laughable. Yet, even the draft translation (performed by Ted Woolsey) was, by the standards of the day, of a reasonably high quality, and in some ways better than many titles of the later PlayStation and PlayStation 2 eras.

Despite the logo, Wind Drakes (read: Dragons) are hardly an essential plot device.

Charting a planet-spanning conflict, Final Fantasy V is the story of an ancient struggle, a fearful evil, and the two generations of warriors who strove against it. As the story opens, the wanderer Bartz and his loyal chocobo, Boco, find their camping interrupted by the arrival of a meteor. Hurrying to the scene, Bartz finds an amnesiac man and a young girl beset by monsters. Unwilling to abandon them to their fate, the courageous Bartz intervenes, for fate has ordained that their destinies lie intertwined. Together, Bartz, Reina, Galuf, and (soon thereafter) Faris will travel across vast distances in an effort to save their world from the dangerous foe who lies sealed within it. But, as they travel, they will also learn about themselves and their own connexion with the threat to their world.

Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, tactics you are employing, and what you are getting out of your playthrough. Do you feel that the presentation of Final Fantasy V has held up since its original release in 1992? Are there aspects of the game that you would change, or that you would hold up as an example for modern game developers to emulate? How has your experience with other RPGs released after Final Fantasy V changed your impressions of the game? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below!

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game in three weeks. For the final week, the goal is to finish the third world of the game and the X-Zone. Feel free to join in, even if you are behind on the playthrough. Anyone and everyone is invited to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the series. Tell your friends!

Without further adieu, it is our very great pleasure to invite you now to join the The Starlight Megaphone staff members, guests, and readers as we embark on a journey to save the crystals in Dear Friends: A Final Fantasy V Playthrough!


  1. Never managed to finish this one. If I finish it, do I get some free Flexivim?

  2. @neoxman: We will make arrangements so that you can conveniently bathe in it, right in your own home!

  3. Are you saying that our readers are lacking in basic hygiene, Java?

  4. I’m excited for this one. This is a game that I’ve felt an attachment to in the past, but at the end of the day, I haven’t played much of it. I’m going to wait until I’ve reached a point that I haven’t gotten to before before I talk specifically about the game, but that shouldn’t take me too long.

  5. Nearing the end of the first world, after which I’ll have some comments ready to go.

    Who else is playing?

  6. @SN: Who, me? Naaaaah. Just making the offer look even more attractive.

    @Caspius: So far, my favorite thing is “YESSSS!”

  7. I’m excited for this, FF5 is one of my favorites because I find the battle system makes it fun to replay. I’m nearing the weeks goal and I’m loving the weird enemy names that I never noticed like Y burn, elf toad, paddle thru and especially ricardmage. I just imagine the water tower full of cultists all named Ricard.

  8. I picked this up last night to join in. Last I played this, it was for about 30 mins using some arcane trickery to get a US disc working on an EU PSOne.

  9. I shall begin this shortly. I haven’t spent much time with the older FF games, so this is as good an excuse as any to give them a go.

  10. Just started my new job; full time graveyard so my sleeping/waking/being alive schedule is thoroughly thrashed at the moment.

    That said, I do have about an hour into the game and am enjoying it. Those little pixel-people are really endearing so far.

  11. Okay, some thoughts.
    The soundtrack is worse than I remember it. This is really lazy-town as far as compositional effort goes. After the surprisingly deep work in Final Fantasy III, and the experimental testing of the new platform’s capabilities in Final Fantasy IV, I expected FFV to demonstrate a further development of Uematsu’s compositional skills. Instead, he seems to have moved backwards. Not until Final Fantasy VI do we hear the leap forward in technique made possible by the use of the superior SNES sound chip.

    The translation is better than I remember it. In fact, as far as the dialogue is considered, it is exceptional by the standards of the day. The monster translations, however, are absolutely lamentable. Wizard Fans and Ricard Mages round out a troupe populated by Cool Dust, Y Burns, and the notorious Karl Boss.

    As far as difficulty is concerned, the game is much (much!) easier than I recall it being. This may be down to the fact that I know precisely what jobs are best so that I do not waste time levelling anything useless, but I am pretty certain this has been the case for the last few times I played it.

    The first world ends very abruptly in my opinion. One moment you’re there dealing with the Crystals, and then next you’re in another world entirely. In this way, the storyline moves a lot like FF3 (a game with which FF5 shares many similarities, not least of all the job system).

  12. “Galuf: I thought you were too PRETTY to be a man!
    Faris: Don’t ye talk down to me, jes ’cause I be a woman!!
    Butz: Uh…oh…”

    Just wanted to preserve that bit of dialogue foe posterity. I think I put 50-some-odd hours into the GBA version without beating it. That was the first version I really played; I didn’t get far into the ROM fan translation. This version is good too. FFV is not one of the absolute best Final Fantasy games, but it is very solid and enjoyable. I like it better than IV, anyways.

    I think you’re right about the music being a step back. There’s parts where it seems like Uematsu is trying out ideas that he’ll later perfect in VI’s soundtrack, but didn’t take the time or somehow couldn’t fully develop them here. That’s like the entire game though; it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and satisfies itself without trying too hard.

    I’m in the ship graveyard at the moment. I’ll play here and there, but doubt I’ll be very caught up with the general flow of the Playthrough. Great choice of game though!

  13. Yeah, I came on here to make a comment about the music, but it’s all already been said!
    It’s really pretty bad.

  14. I think I found my new favorite bad enemy name translation in the bald money, truly fantastic.

  15. More bad enemy translations needed!

    Also: I’m still on world two. Hoping to cram my way to endgame this week. Who else is getting along?

  16. I’m at the pyramid in world three. It’s probably my least favorite area in the game with the room with all the machines that spam you so you have to fight a bunch of them if you get stuck somewhere. In addition to a random encounter with a sorceress that summons a creature that uses the attack that halves your level over and over which for some reason unless you have !flee it takes forever (3-4 minutes probably) to run from.

    As for bad names how about the satanic water bus that resides around X-Deaths castle? You can tell their secret satanic ways by the way they give you 666 GP when they die.

  17. I’m still early on, but I’m planning on having a few dedicated sessions this week. I’m really glad I haven’t played much of it, because it’s pretty fascinating to return to. I found a really good FAQ that gave me some Jobs info while still leaving it pretty open for me to discover and test on my own.

  18. I tried to play this game. I tried my best. I have no actual systems to play it on, so I tried to get a ROM. Every ROM has some sort of modification to it. One started all characters at level 99. One has the difficulty boosted so I got rekt’d on the first battle. One of them has Bartz (or Butz lol) saying his name is “AssMonkey 2000.” I give up.

  19. Well I finished, I enjoyed the playthrough although I agree with the criticisms levied against it on the podcast. I played through the game about 8 levels under-leveled and got through just fine.

    Also I love that the tonberry in this game is called dinglberry. They must have run the enemy names through a Google translate equivalent to end up with these names.

  20. I am amazed that LC11 made it all the way through the game.

    I think this may be the first playthrough that I was unable to complete. Sad times. I really do not like Final Fantasy V very much, and this playthrough has only reduced my opinion of the title. Even the battle system, which I formerly thought pretty solid, I have found really wanting (as discussed on the podcast).

    Dinglberry is pretty horrible. I still think that Y Burn and Karl Boss take the cake, however. Those will probably never be surpassed in any game.

    Y BURN!

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